I had some questions regarding this imagery (from an artist friend), so I thought I'd share some of my explanation here for clarification.
The image was taken from a book on the history of the American Civil War, which ran from 1861-1865. The two young men in the picture are (l - r) Andrew M. Chandler and "his faithful servant
", Silas (quotes present in the book); who were from Clay County, Mississippi (the deep south). I was struck by how young the two looked, perhaps 15 or 16? And I found the contrasts between the two figures to be extremely compelling...
While Andrew's posture reflects what I see as a boy who is perhaps naive and impenetrable, Silas appears to look askance, with his gaze averted and his posture settled. Is Silas slouching, because he would not be "allowed" to sit at a height equal to Andrew's height? Or is he not fully committed to the "cause"?
What keeps drawing me to this image are the contrasts, both subtle and not so subtle, between the figures.
What either figure thinks can only be imagined...and that hooks me as well.